California leads the country in hit and run accidents. These accidents result in injuries, deaths, and property damage. But since you cannot identify the at-fault driver in a hit and run accident, you will be unable to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Here are the things you should know about what you should do after a hit and run accident in California.
Steps You Should Take After a Hit and Run Accident
Hit and run accidents are different than ordinary car accidents. A hit and run is a crime in California and is subject to a jail sentence and fines. As a result, the steps that you take after a hit and run accident should be geared toward fully documenting the accident.
Secure the Accident Scene
Regardless of how an accident occurs, the primary concern after a hit and run accident is the safety of you and the other people involved in the accident. If any cars are in the road, you should set out cones or flares to warn oncoming traffic about the accident.
You should check on everyone at the scene of the accident to see whether anyone requires first aid or medical attention. If anyone requires medical attention, you may need to call emergency services for help and provide first aid until EMTs arrive.
Report the Accident
Under California law, you must report an accident that results in injury or death. California punishes failure to report an accident by suspending driver’s licenses.
But more importantly, a hit and run is a crime. You should report the accident to the local police or the California Highway Patrol. This will satisfy your duty to report the accident. It will also trigger a criminal investigation of the hit and run. This can help you to support a subsequent injury claim or lawsuit.
For example, many hit and run accidents occur due to intoxication of the driver. By contacting local law enforcement, they can begin to investigate who the other driver was and whether the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When they track down the driver, the evidence in the criminal case can help you to establish liability for your injuries.
Document the Accident
Before you leave the scene of the accident, take pictures or videos of the injuries and property damage that occurred. Try to take pictures of each vehicle involved in the accident. This could help you and your lawyer to reconstruct what happened.
Provide the police with as much information as you can to help them identify the hit and run driver. The more information they have, the better the chances are that they will catch the driver. If the police identify the driver, you can try to recover compensation from the driver’s insurer.
Finally, get the contact information of any witnesses. If the driver is identified, you may need testimony from anyone who saw the accident in a lawsuit or insurance claim.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you do not need first aid or attention at the scene of the accident, you should still see a doctor. A medical examination soon after the accident occurs can have a few benefits for an injury claim.
A doctor can diagnose your injuries. Sometimes, a minor injury turns out to be more serious than it seemed. For example, a sore back might be caused by a herniated disc.
Your doctor can also prescribe a course of treatment. Since injury claims include both past and future medical expenses, a treatment plan will help you to estimate your damages.
Your doctor visit will establish that your injuries caused you to miss work. Injury claims also cover lost income. A doctor’s note telling you to stay home from work will help you to prove how much income you lost due to your injuries.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Until the hit and run driver is identified, you may have benefits under your auto insurance policy that can help you to pay for medical bills and cover your lost income.
You can file a claim for a hit and run accident under your policy if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Most insurance policies include unidentified motorists within the definition of uninsured motorists.
You may also file a claim under your policy if you have med pay or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Med pay coverage will pay for any out-of-pocket medical expenses that your health insurance does not cover. PIP covers both unreimbursed medical expenses and a portion of the income you lost due to your injuries.
Getting Help After a Hit and Run Accident
Many injury lawyers lack experience with hit and run accident claims. Hit and run accidents occur less frequently than ordinary car accidents and many injury lawyers never get a hit and run accident case. When you look for a lawyer to help with your injury claim after a hit and run accident, you should consider the firm’s experience with hit and run accidents. Contact Lalezary Law Firm for a free consultation with a friendly and experienced personal injury attorney. Our firm has handled hit and run accident cases successfully and we can provide the same personal representation in your case. We Fight. You Win. They Pay.